from Simon Lewis at Murrayfield
IRELAND beware. The Scots are going to throw the kitchen sink at Declan Kidney's team when this Six Nations clash gets under way at Murrayfield this afternoon.
Two weeks on from a disastrous 24-6 defeat to Wales, when butter-fingered Scotland made Ireland look like they were sponsored by Teflon, Scottish captain Al Kellock has been spitting fire and promising redemption for his side to the team's much put-upon fans.
“It doesn't bear thinking about following the Wales performance with another bad one,” Kellock wrote in his Scotsman column. “We have to make sure that was a blip.
“We are going out into a uniquely pressurised atmosphere again tomorrow, but that is why we are here and, if you cannot handle that, forget international rugby. We have prepared well, worked hard on the details of a game plan we believe is good enough to beat Ireland, so long as we all retain the focus when the first whistle sounds.
“We are responsible for exciting the Murrayfield crowd and lifting our supporters, not them us. We know that the performance against Wales let Scotland down, and it is for us to inspire the nation tomorrow. We fully intend to.”
Fighting talk indeed, although the Irish have some redemption to seek of their own following a victory that got away against the French in Dublin in round two.
The numbers of Irish fans crossing over the sea to Edinburgh may be fewer in these straitened times - every taxi driver, hotelier and publican in this ancient city will attest to that as they were to the absence of traditionally large numbers of Welsh fans a fortnight ago – but those who did dig deep and make the effort could be rewarded with witnessing a turning point in Ireland's fortunes.
A third game in succession of high error and penalty counts must not be allowed to happen and if that is the case, Declan Kidney's men can be every bit as dynamic as Six Nations championship front-runners England have been in their first three games.
In overpowering a bulked up France side at Twickenham today, Martin Johnson's team showed they have more in their arsenal than just Northampton flyer Chris Ashton and that the old standbys of the English yeomanry, hard tackling, strong scrummaging and steely resolve, are very much still to the fore.
Should Ireland start to turn it on against the Scots tomorrow and then again in Cardiff against Wales, that momentum will stand to them heading into a potential Grand Slam decider for the English at the Aviva Stadium on March 19 and make for an intriguing encounter between the best of enemies.